Pacific Alumni, Key Speakers Talk Native American History, Land Rights, North Dakota Pipeline and More #NODAPL
On Wednesday, Nov. 16, the University of the Pacific held a discussion panel titled, “Homelands: Tribal Water Rights, Stewardship & the Environment” and invited three distinguished guests. Richard Trudell, a member of the Santee Sioux Tribe, a veteran and attorney; Dr. Little Fawn Bolan, ’98, International Relations, member of the Piro-Manso-Tiwa Tribe and a partner at Ceiba Legal LLC; and Dr. Sara Dutschke Setshwaelo, ’08, Law, a member of the Ione Band of Miwok Indians and Senior Managing Associate of Dentons’ Public Law practice concentrating in Native American Law and Policy. These outstanding speakers talked to students and members of the community about Native American land and water rights as part of Native American Heritage Month.
Trudell gave an overview of Native American land rights throughout the history of the United States. From the formation of the thirteen original colonies, the struggles against the widely held belief of Manifest Destiny by early settlers, and the conquest of the American West to Today.
Dr. Sara Dutschke Setshwaelo provided the details and process that Native Americans have to go through in order to acquire land, which include purchasing the land, applying for a transfer, defending the litigation, and exercising full stewardship of the land. Setshwaelo added that under the Obama administration, Native Americans have gained 500,000 over acres of land, and that it is uncertain how easily or difficult it may be to acquire land under the Trump administration.
The final speaker, Dr. Little Fawn Boland talked about a modern-day issue that many Native Tribes are protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a 1,172 mile underground oil pipeline that would run under the Missouri River. Boland explained that with the pipeline being built underneath the Missouri River, an oil leak would contaminate fresh drinking water for inhabitants of several states, and how construction of the pipeline has already demolished sacred burial grounds and cultural sites. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who live ½ mile downstream of the pipeline, are leading the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and their protests have often been met with militarized private security and police forces who have maced, shot the protesters with rubber bullets, and doused the group with fire hoses in freezing temperatures.
When asked how students here at Pacific could help the Standing Rock Sioux, the panelists suggested signing petitions and letting the voices of the students be heard by the local and national government. Trudell also suggested that students stay informed by following Indian Country Today at indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com for updates on the protests at Standing Rock.
Though the protests at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline and many of the other modern struggles that plague Native Americans are not often covered by the mass media, it is a positive effect that the University of the Pacific invite such accomplished speakers to inform students, families, and the community on those who originally inhabited this country and who are being wronged today.